The music on Victory is during the time of transition from live instrumentation to digital. While the electric guitar was still greatly respected, many of the songs here feature heavy synths and digitally programmed drums. However, many respected musicians play on this album including Toto's drummer Jeff Porcaro, bassist Louis Johnson and drummer Jonathan “Sugarfoot” Moffett. Similar to Prince's Purple Rain (the album that completely overshadowed this one) Victory represents a fusion of rock grooves with the emerging '80s synth sound that would dominate the music scene during the following years.
Aside from Prince topping the charts, another reason for the album's relative failure is the lack of Michael Jackson. This was the time when Michael was at the absolute peak of his fame, and fans were disappointed to see that he wasn't involved much with this album. And, given the fact that Michael revealed in interviews that songs like Liberian Girl were written around this time, it is obvious that he secretly held on to some of his best materials for BAD while contributing weak, weepy tracks like Be Not Always for this album.
Aside from said track, every song Michael participated on was pretty good. Torture goes back to the old Jackson 5 format, with Michael and Jermaine trading off as a duet while Jackie provides his shaky falsetto adlibs at the end of the song. Wait is the opposite, operating as a Jackie Jackson vehicle while Jermaine and Michael bless the songs with closing adlibs.
State of Shock is Michael's hard rock duet with Mick Jagger, the lead singer of The Rolling Stones. This could be viewed as the less successful sequel to Beat It. While playing around with some of my music software, I discovered that Michael lowered the pitch of his voice several octaves when singing the line, "State of Shock." So there you have it. The deep, husky voice singing the chorus is Michael's voice pitched down. Again, this was when the technology to do these things were new and the brothers were experimenting.
The last song to feature Michael is The Hurt, which, right under Torture, is the best song on the album for me. Michael's signature falsetto is instantly recognizable during the background harmonies.
What amazes me is that although Michael obviously didn't put his heart into this album, his voice was at its most pure at this time. Thriller Michael preferred to soar in his high tenor rather than growl and snarl, which gradually became his vocal trademark in the coming years. Even though the music was pop, this album marked the end of “soul” Michael, who wouldn't return until the New Jack Swing tracks on Dangerous (1991) and a few songs on Invincible. (2001)
Jackie is probably the most passionate songwriter in the group right under Michael and it shows on how strong his songs are. He co-wrote Torture and composed the song Wait, both of which are strong album openers.
Randy's solo contribution to the album is One More Chance, which is a very memorable ballad full of pretty synths and background vocals. Little sister Janet later covered the song.
We Can Change The World is Tito's chance to shine. It's a tough song, but very much of its time.
The Hurt is a good song piloted by Randy, but he was the wrong brother to sing it. It should have been sang by Michael, or at least Jermaine or Jackie. Hell, I almost think their father Joseph could have sang it better. I understand that Randy wanted to maintain that ethereal, whispery Jackson sound, but he can't pull off a good falsetto cry like Michael. This was a missed opportunity.
Body is the Marlon Jackson version of Wanna Be Startin Somethin. It's a decent enough song, but it's great to see him try. He doesn't necessarily disappoint, but when you're on the same album as your brother Michael, you're automatically gonna get compared. This makes Marlon's effort dead on arrival.
The videos are quite strange. Torture is the best, despite the absence of Jermaine and Michael. The song actually told a decent, sinister story despite the lead singers of the song being absent.
The video for Body? Eh, the less said about it, the better.
State Of Shock was the album's biggest hit, but it was never performed on the tour and there was not a video filmed. Michael was only going through the motions here to get his family off his back. Soon after the tour wrapped in December 1984, Michael co-wrote We Are The World with Lionel Richie, then got to work on Captain Eo for Disney.
The Victory album has become almost a footnote in the Jacksons legacy, but the album is not terrible.